The dangers of procrastination and passive behavior

procrastination

I often hear people talk about their intentions, all the good things they would like to do, the services they would like to offer others, the amazing things they would like to build in their lives, etc. But… how often do they take concrete actions that reflect those intentions…?

I find that many people get stuck in the “intention phase” and never get pass that… Especially people who are passive or tend to procrastinate, they will fill their heads with all the great intentions they have and they would even manage to convince others around them, but… never follow through with them.

Unfortunately all your good intentions are totally worthless unless you take actions that reflect them.

There is no mystery, if you want to live your life fully, you cannot procrastinate on it, you cannot wait for things to happen to you, you cannot take a passive stand on your existence.

You have the chance to live by “design” as opposed to by “default,”  but it is ultimately up to you to take that chance, sadly, a lot of people decide not to.

If you want to live by design, to be the architect of your own life, to co-create with the Universe and all the other forces that are greater than you, you need to take action!

There is always a better time and space for an action, and sometimes it is wise to wait for the right time, but you cannot spend your life waiting, in fact, it is best to take action even if you fail, than to have never tried.

A total lack of action could be considered an act in and of itself, because there are clear consequences from it, but when you choose not to act, you are simply waiting for things to happen to you, and if you don’t like those things, you will always feel like a victim and blame others for what happens to you.

When you decide to act, you are creating momentum, you are moving forward, you are taking responsibility, so even if you fail in the action, you will not feel like a victim, you will not blame others; you will know that you tried and that knowledge will give you peace and strength to continue to move forward, to learn from your mistakes, and to try something else.

Sometimes, a lack of action is nothing but an inability to face one’s fears: fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of loss, fear of change, etc.

Some people when faced with a problem for instance, decide to ignore it because they are scared of it, they don’t think they can solve it, so they simply pretend the problem isn’t there, or wait and hope for it to go away.

People manage to ignore problems by staying constantly distracted, taking their mind to a different place and numbing their feelings out, they use distractions such as: overworking, partying all the time, overeating, using and abusing alcohol, sex, and TV, etc.

But the truth is, they are only fooling themselves, by ignoring a problem it only grows bigger.

But, let alone problems and fears, some people still manage to procrastinate and not act even if fear isn’t involved, they somehow take the conscious or subconscious decision to sit and wait around. Some people fill their mouths with good intentions but when the opportunity to act on them comes along, they shy away from it.

In order to live fully, it is important to make decisions, no matter how hard they are, it is important to take risks, no matter if you fail, it is important to face your fears, even if it hurts, it is important to embrace the opportunities even if they are the wrong ones. It is important to act.

If you have the tendency to procrastinate or take a passive stand in life, think twice… this may be robbing you from having richer experiences and richer relationships.

And, if you have good intentions, especially towards others, make sure you act accordingly, make sure that your intentions become actions, make sure that when the opportunity to act comes along, you take it!

 

 

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Unfolding the layers of purpose

“Living a life of purpose” is a phrase that I often come across, it seems like a very popular phrase nowadays, but what does it really mean? How do we actually DO that? What is our purpose in life anyway? Living our purpose is easier said than done!

layers

You may see your purpose as the work you do, the career you have built, or maybe the family you are raising, the relationships you cherish, etc. But remember that none of those things can really qualify as your purpose if you somehow feel empty, or feel like something is missing…

Your true purpose in life is your mission, that what fills your life with joy, strength, fulfillment, confidence, and true excitement. This mission lies at the core of your being and it is the very reason you exist, and yet it can seem very elusive at times. How do you find it?

Here is an interesting new concept I read about recently and gave me some clarity on this topic: There seems to be many layers of purpose around our lives, and in order to get to the core and to the deepest truth of who we are and what our mission is, we first need to shed all the layers that cover us, one by one. This shedding process is like a slow unfolding that cannot be bypassed if we are to find our true purpose.

All these layers are superficial layers, and by that I do not mean they are less important, but they are more “external” to our being. Because of the fact that the layers need to unfold, there is an inevitable factor of constant change in order to unveil the truth, in order to reach our essence. You must be willing to change everything in your life in order to move from one layer to the next, and this change is often feared and resisted.

By fearing and resisting the inevitable change, we can get stuck in the process and we can stay stagnant in one of these superficial layers for the rest of our lives which is the same as living a mediocre life devoid of true purpose, no matter how much money we make or how perfect our family life looks like.

Every job, enterprise, career, relationship in your life will serve its purpose; but you may have to move on in order to grow, and that means you may be faced with difficult choices like: completely changing careers, divorcing your spouse of many years, leaving behind a secure job, etc. I am giving the examples of the major changes that will create the most fear and resistance; but there are many other small or not so small changes that still need to be dealt with every day.

The good news is: the journey is more important than the destination, so all these layers of purpose are meant to be lived fully, because they are part of our purpose, the problem is when we feel something is not right, when we feel something is missing, but we are not willing to look deeper, when we are too scared of what we will find and we decide to just stay in the safety of the known, we simply decide to numb our feelings, to distract ourselves with meaningless acts, and by doing so we block the process of unfolding and ultimately our process of growth and fulfillment.

Living our purpose goes hand in hand with living with presence, so if you are present, you are living a life of purpose, it is as simple as that, because that presence will clearly direct your life’s unfolding one step at a time. This is the most important thing to remember because only if we live with presence we will indeed find our true mission.

By living with presence we will be able to live every layer fully and we will have the clarity of letting go when the time has come to let go. After completing one layer, we might not know what to do next and that can be very scary but if we live with presence we will find the guidance, the vision, and the next path to take.

Also, if we live with presence, we won’t be “using” anybody or anything for our purpose, but we will be giving our best every day and in every way. So there will be no victims nor damage in the paths we leave behind, no matter how hard it may be to move on.

At the time of transition though, you will need to pay close attention to connecting with your inner wisdom, by finding stillness to fully BE with yourself, clearing your head of thoughts, and avoiding filling your days with meaningless distractions that will take you away from that connection (ex.: watching tv or using alcohol to numb your feelings)

If you are living your life without purpose (or without presence), you are not living fully because you are not really present. Not being present means you are living in the past or in the future (you are either ruminating about the past or projecting into the future,) you are not giving your full attention to what is going on in the moment, to the people you are with, and to the situations that unfold in front of you.

Our lifetime is a constant process of unfolding layers and it is easy to resist this process, to fear it, but the only reason we fear it is because we are stuck with the expectations or commitments of the past, or we are projecting into an uncertain future and imagining negative outcomes.

So the answer to finding and living your purpose is simply to leave with presence, to pay attention to the moment and to let go of the past and the future, completely let it go. In the richness of the present moment you will find clarity, your will find joy, and you will find peace, and your purpose will unveil.

If you wish to read more about presence and purpose, I have listed below a few related articles and books.

Have a great week!

Related Articles:

Be Present in the Present

Your Senses, A Gateway to the Present Moment

Every Ending is a New Beginning

Living the Life of Your Dreams

Books:

The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment

The Way of the Superior Man (written for men)

Sacred Contracts: Awakening Your Divine Potential

 

Living the Life of Your Dreams!

Is it really possible to live the life of our dreams? or is it an old cliche? or maybe a lucky strike that only hits a few fortunate ones? What does it really mean to live the life of our dreams? Do we actually know?

dreams

Living the life of your dreams has little to do with accumulating wealth or reaching specific standards of comfort, but it has a lot to do with living with passion, with presence, living in the flow and being happy and grateful everyday. Living the life of your dreams simply means aligning yourself with your own unique purpose, with the fulfillment of your own and unique mission in this lifetime.

Each one of us came to this world on a mission (believe it or not), it is not by chance that we were born, and it is not by chance that each one of us is unique in many different ways. There is a purpose for our life and our passage into this earth, and it is not until we connect with that mission and purpose that we can truly live the life of our dreams. Living our mission has also a lot to do with contributing to the world in a unique and meaningful way. If we only focus on what the world can give us, without focusing on what WE can give to the world, we will most likely miss our purpose altogether.

Every child is born with a little seed that carries their life’s purpose and potential in it. if a child is given true freedom to explore their innate talents and interests from the very beginning, and is respected for their strengths instead of labeled for their flaws, that child has a much better chance to figure out his/her purpose in life. More often than not, we try to make children “fit into” the cookie-cutter model of the person they are supposed to become as opposed to allowing them to blossom into the person they already are.

Teaching our kids to compete, to be better than others, to be “winners”, etc. is really damaging, because it teaches them that there isn’t enough for everybody, that in order to be happy one has to win and to be better than others to make sure they have their fair share. This brings in a world of competition instead of cooperation, a world of individuals instead of communities, a world of have and have-not’s, a world of winners and losers, a world that is far from ideal… this is the world we live in, and we can change it, one child at a time. We all have this responsibility as adults and role models, and we need to keep this in mind.

We don’t need to be better than others, we just need to be the best version of ourselves, we need to let our baby seed blossom, not by winning over others, having more than others, comparing ourselves to others, but by finding our unique purpose and living it, then there is no room for competition, just for fulfillment. Every person has a totally different purpose and they are all worthwhile.

Living the life of your dreams or rather finding your purpose and embodying it, may take a lot of deconstructing old patterns and beliefs, it may also take you away from people or situations that don’t support you truth. But there is no wasted time, life is a journey of discovery and growth, so instead of resenting all the time spent in less than ideal situations, relationships, jobs, etc. be thankful for those experiences and struggles as they will probably bring you closer to finding yourself.

When you find your true purpose and mission in life and you start to embody it, you will live from a place of authenticity and truth, so everything else will come into alignment with that truth: your work, the place you live in, the relationships in your life, etc. Living your truth takes courage, but living in such a way is not only a dream but a necessity, because if we don’t, our whole system (our body) starts to fail.

Ayurveda, which is one of the world’s oldest medical systems, originated in India more than 3,000 years ago, refers to the divine role in which each soul participates from birth as an important part of healing. Healing is a matter of supporting the body to fulfill its birth role, thus allowing the soul to fulfill its spiritual task for this incarnation.

The word Dharma, used widely and sometimes misunderstood, basically means the Law that “upholds, supports or maintains the regulatory order of the universe”, according to this law, every single one of us (and every other living being) has a role to play in the harmony of the whole, which is to say we all have a unique mission and purpose that will bring harmony not only to our own lives but to the whole world.

In that light, I would like to share two excerpts from the Bhagavad Gita about Dharma:

“Better is one’s own dharma thought imperfectly carried out than the dharma of another carried out perfectly”

“Better is death in the fulfillment of one’s dharma, for to follow the law of another brings great spiritual peril”

In the search for the life of our dreams, we can start by finding what really moves us, inspires us, attracts us, interest us, and see how that aligns with our unique talents (because they usually go hand in hand), and try to bring more and more of that into our lives, even if that means making changes, sometime small sometime big, but do not be afraid, if you are in the right path, everything else will fall back in place….

I wanted to share a video that really moved me, it is about a young girl that was lucky to find her passion and calling at a very early age, her story is remarkable and at the end she encourages us all to not give up on finding our mission for this life, it is a little long but a true gem. A 23 year-old mother of 30

An last but not least, another Inspiring video (shorter and more generic)

Have a good week!

Suggested articles:

How to find yourself when you have lost yourself by Rebecca Lammersen

Rumi, Dharma and Passion by Catie Joyce

Living my Dream by Dagmar Spremberg


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Respecting our Healing Process

Being in touch with our feelings is extremely important, more so if we are going through a traumatic life event.

sun

Everybody at some point in life is faced with a more or less traumatic event of any sort, whether it is the loss of a loved one, a divorce, an accident, a health challenge, a job loss, etc. Any event that creates a certain level of trauma and stress will produce feelings of grief, failure, guilt, despair, hopelessness, anger, etc. and it is very important to acknowledge those feelings in order to process them in a healthy way.

Sometimes I feel that in this fast-speed, efficiency-driven, brain-dominant, type-A culture, people tend to dismiss or ignore those processes. I often hear people’s reactions to their own grief or that of others and I am appalled at how little connection they have to their emotional needs, let alone that of others. No matter how hard life hits them, some people are just not in touch with their feelings, and that can only create further damage in their psyche and their physical health.

Although it is true that some people are more or less sensitive, we are all human, and we all need to go through these emotional processes, no matter what. In order to start healing we need to acknowledge our feelings, respect them, allow them to be, and give ourselves the time we need to heal. Instead, the tendency is often to dismiss, escape and ignore the process by using diversion and denial.

I often see people treat emotional processes with the coldness of a corporate executive decision, with a matter-of-fact attitude; thinking that they can just move on, make an effort, try harder, forget about it, and rebound almost unscathed.

The truth is, we can only move on in a healthy way, if we allow ourselves to go through the process of healing our heart first. If we do not allow this natural process to take place, we are only setting ourselves up for further suffering. Our brain and our heart work at a different speed, and in a brain-dominant culture, we do not give the heart a chance and the time to really heal.

Our brain constantly tells us to DO, DO, and DO, whereas our heart tells us to just BE. So, if you are going through a difficult time, remember to just BE and try to stop the compulsive doing and the compulsive thinking, this will help you connect to your heart and to your feelings. Our brain often forces us to jump into the next thing without allowing proper healing, and although we may find some distraction from our process in doing that, we are not being true to our needs.

Also, in a brain-driven culture people find it hard to just BE with the pain of others, they feel the constant need to fix it, to give advice, to divert them from their pain; instead we should learn to hold someone in pain, with respect and presence, nothing else.

By being aware of your emotional healing process I do not suggest you sink into despair and shut yourself off completely, such an extreme reaction could happen in the presence of depression though, and depression can definitely appear following a traumatic life event, so it is important to be aware of it and seek professional help if needed. But what I mean is rather to be mindful of everything around you and acknowledge your feelings, take one day at a time and respect your own rhythm and timing, do not “force” anything.

No matter what people around you, or your own busy brain says, try to disconnect from your thoughts and the external pressures of others, in order to connect to your feelings and needs. Whatever you do, do not ignore your feelings, it will only hurt you more in the end.

Sometimes people don’t “feel” anything, or they think they are not affected by a given event, but this is a problem because the emotions are usually there no matter what, and if they are not “felt” chances are they are stuck somewhere in our bodies and will cause physical discomfort or even health problems, so it is important to watch out for those body clues, as they may be signs that there are emotions that need to be acknowledged.

There are many ways that can help your healing, but first and foremost you need to be aware, be patient and be loving with yourself. You can use meditation to quiet your mind and connect to your heart, you can practice body-mind disciplines like yoga, Thai-Chi, Qigong, etc., you can reach out to friends and family for support and help, or you could reach out for professional help if needed.

Whatever you do, don’t be afraid of grief, it is important to acknowledge it, respect it, and process it. If you honor your healing process and its timing, you will be able to learn from it, find true peace and move on effectively.

Have a good week!


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Worries, worries and more worries…

How can we possibly get rid of our worries?

worry

Worrying is a very common thing, and depending on our personality we can be more or less of a worrier, but most people do worry about many different things, whether they admit it or not.

Our worries can be big or small, and they can take up some of our time and attention or they can take up a lot of it. People worry about things like not having enough money to pay bills, getting sick, their kids not doing well in school, loosing their jobs, etc… There are a million things we can worry about on a daily basis.

But worrying is always about our mind projecting into the future, imagining things, it always involves fear of the future, fear of being in a place or a situation that we consider negative, scary. But if we look closely at the things we worry about, in many cases they are unrealistic projections that may never happen. Or even if they are realistic, we often blow them out of proportion.

“I have been through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.”
Mark Twain

Indeed, our minds are so incredibly powerful, that their projections can make us experience tremendous fear that can take us away from what is real, from what we have, from the people we love, from the good things around us… If our mind is consumed in fear and anxiety, we are NOT present, we are not living fully and we are missing important things.

So, the key to stop worrying is to learn to quiet our mind, so that eventually we can successfully shut it off when it starts going into all sorts of negative projections; and come back to the present, to what is real, to what we need to deal with.

This became really true for me, about a month ago, when I suffered from a heart attack. I feel God gave me the opportunity to see what I have really learned, because it is easy to stay calm when things are going well in our lives, but when things get rocky, that is when we really know how far we have come.

After all these years of working on my fears, meditating, doing yoga, trying to quiet my mind, be present, live in the moment, etc. I was suddenly in a situation of great fear: fear for my health, for my life, for my kids, for the future, etc…

As I was in the hospital, dealing with all the unpleasant tests and waiting for the Doctors to come to a diagnosis, I realized that I could easily sunk into deep fear and anxiety, or simply BE, deal with the moment, without projecting anything in the future. I noticed for example that as soon as I started thinking of my small children, I would start crying and feeling totally powerless and scared, so, as soon as their little faces or voices came to my mind, I just banished the thought and immediately I felt calmer.

Also, I had always been incredibly afraid of needles, and any sort of intrusive medical procedures, so when they told me they were going to do a cardiac cath, I felt my stomach contracting, I felt totally anxious, but again, I was able to shut off my fear inducing thoughts and just BE in the moment, calm.

As I was recently reading about what happened to me, called a SCAD (Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection), which is a very rare type of heart attack, for which medicine has no answers yet, Doctors have no idea what causes it, how it can be prevented and if it could happen again. I realized I could worry about this all my life, wondering if it could happen again, or, I could just live my life, at peace, since nobody knows what can happen tomorrow, what is the point of worrying after all… So, I stopped reading about it, thinking about it, and I was able to let go of that worry.

Thanks to this experience, I have realized that all these years of personal work have paid off, I am gaining some control of my mind, at least now I know for a fact that our worries are nothing but the workings of our mind projections, AND we can control our minds. If I can do it, anybody can do it!

Of course, we cannot suddenly shut off our thoughts, but the first step is to realize that our thoughts are responsible for most of our fear and worries, and that our mind projections are not real, they are just projections and, we can learn to control our minds. Realizing this is huge!

The next step, for which we really need commitment, is to learn how to quiet our minds, how to clean our minds from the incessant stream of thought and external stimulation, so that in time our thoughts are less controlling, sparse and healthier.

One of my favorite authors: Eckart Tolle says that the longer the time between a perception and a thought the greater the presence, in other words, if our minds do not start thinking immediately about what our senses perceive, but we just experience the perception without any thoughts about it (judgment, labeling, projecting) the more we are present, and presence is real, it is all there is!

So, if you are a serious worrier, stop justifying your worries, instead, consider accepting the fact that you make up the projections that feed your fear, and you can get rid of them if you make some shifts in your life by changing your perception and working on quieting your mind. It takes conviction and commitment, but it is possible, it will transform your life for the better, and, it is never too late to start!

Have a good week!

Related posts:

Free yourself from fear

Fear: the source of all negativity

Taming our Monkey Minds


Announcements:

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Finding True Peace

Last week I attended a Peace Ceremony at my kids school and in the program, there was a quote that I really liked, and I wanted to reflect on it today. Here it is:

“Peace is not the absence of noise, trouble or hard work,
it is to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart” 
– Unknown

peacedove

This is such a powerful statement, and so important to keep in mind!
as we often hope to find peace in a place of quiet, harmony, and calm; but true and lasting peace comes only if we carry that place within us.

If we are not at peace in our hearts, we can be in the most beautiful and quiet place, and have total harmony around us but still find turmoil and chaos inside; but if we are at peace in our hearts, it doesn’t matter what the outside circumstances are, we can still remain calm and in harmony through anything.

One of the best ways to find peace in our hearts is by letting go, letting go of control. This is not easy and goes against a strong human tendency, but the more we practice it, the more we become good at it and it eventually becomes easier and easier.

Our human tendency is to control everything in our lives, we like to have certainty about future events, we like to know what is coming, we like to plan and predict our future, etc. But no matter how well we do, life keeps changing and we can’t predict much of what happens, as there are too many factors at play.

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”
– Lao Tzu

This does not mean that we have NO saying in the way our lives unfold, in fact we have a LOT to do with the way our lives unfold, but our real strength and power comes from being open to change, being totally present and accepting our reality as is.

If we are open to change, as opposed to clinging to the way things are or the way we want them to be, we are part of the flow of life which is always changing, and in that way we find harmony with it.

If we are totally present, we can live more fully, every single moment of our lives with no interference from our past, our fears, our predictions, etc, and that way we can be more in touch with reality, which in turn will allow us to have more clarity. Clarity will then help us make the best decisions at the appropriate times, and take the actions that are best for us.

And finally, when we accept our reality as is, we stop resisting what is, and this will free our energy so we can use it more wisely towards better outcomes.

So, letting go of control is the first and more important step towards finding real peace, and it is worth all the efforts it may require, because true and lasting peace has no price.

“If you let go a little, you find a little peace, if you let go a lot, you find a lot of peace,
if you let go absolutely, you find absolute peace”

– Ajahn Chah

So, start looking for peace inside your heart and you will eventually find it for good!

Have a good week!

Related post: Practicing Acceptance and Letting go of Control…


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Self-compassion vs. Self-esteem

A few weeks ago, a friend recommended a book about Self-compassion, so I started to look into this subject and realized that most people, including myself, do not practice Self-compassion very well. However, we live in a culture where Self-esteem is an obsession, so I wanted to look into the differences between these two.

self-compassion

I have always tried to be a better person, a better student, a better daughter, a better wife, a better mother, a better professional, etc. the list goes on and on. I always try to be better, and although there is nothing wrong with trying to be better, I feel like it is a constant source of self-inflicted pressure in my life.

I believe that many people go through the same pattern of trying to always be better in order to feel accepted and loved, yet, somewhere along the way they forget to love themselves, and often become their worst judges.

As a mother, I want to make sure my kids have a great sense of self-esteem, and this goes in line with the tendency of the culture I live in, where kids are made to feel special in school, as a way to build a strong self-esteem. However the way people get their self-esteem is not always very healthy and it can backfire, as we may believe that unless we are “better than others” we are not good enough, and that creates another set of problems. So, it dawned on me that building Self-compassion in kids is much MUCH more important than building Self-esteem.

I would like to quote Dr. Kristin Neff, who is an expert on Self-compassion, because I think she puts it really nicely:

“The relentless search for high self-esteem has become a virtual religion; and a tyrannical one at that. Our competitive culture tells us we need to be special and above average to feel good about ourselves, but we can’t all be above average at the same time. There is always someone richer, more attractive, or successful than we are. And even when we do manage to feel self-esteem for one golden moment, we can’t hold on to it. Our sense of self-worth bounces around like a ping-pong ball, rising and falling in lock-step with our latest success or failure. Fortunately, there is an alternative to self-esteem that many psychologists believe is a better and more effective path to happiness: self-compassion.

If we build our self-esteem by being “special,” above average, or better than others (smarter, cuter, richer, etc.), we will always feel like we need to be more than others in order to love ourselves, and the danger of this behavior is that we may want to put others down in order to feel better, and our self-esteem will always depend on the circumstances and the people around us. Self-compassion on the other hand, does not depend on others nor on the circumstances of our life, it is about accepting ourselves fully, loving ourselves unconditionally and finding comfort in spite of our mistakes and failures.

It is important to grow, to learn, and to become better, but we can only truly do this if we are able to accept ourselves fully, and that means loving ourselves through our ups and downs, our failures and successes, our mistakes and achievements. Self-acceptance is more important and should precede self-improvement. If we try to always improve without truly accepting ourselves, we will often be critical and judge our mistakes, shortcomings and failures.

When a good friend comes to us for comfort because they have made a huge mistake or have failed terribly at something, we will most likely show them love, compassion and give them the comfort they need. However, if we are the ones that made a huge mistake or failed terribly, we will most likely (silently or openly) criticize ourselves, judge ourselves, even hate ourselves sometimes. It is certainly easier to show compassion to someone else than it is to show it to ourselves, but it is really important that we do.

Here below are some cool resources I found on the topic of Self-compassion:

So, remember to forgive yourself first and love yourself unconditionally.

Have a good week!


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